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M-204 / Lk. Leelanau Narrows

M-204 / Lk. Leelanau Narrows


County: Leelanau

City/Township: Lake Leelanau

Location: M-204 / Lk. Leelanau Narrows

Year Built: 1939

About this Bridge:
The Lake Leelanau Narrows Bridge is eligible for the National Register as a significant product of a Depression-era relief program and a reflection of the influence of the tourism industry on highway development.

French Canadian farmers settled in this area in the mid-1800s. Lake Leelanau, an obstruction to east-west travel, was first spanned by a wooden bridge in 1864. This was replaced by a metal truss bridge in 1894-1895, which served traffic until the Michigan State Highway Department built the existing structure in 1939. The new bridge was sited about 200 yards north of the previous span. The Lake Leelanau Narrows Bridge was a project of the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, which sought both to improve the nation's infrastructure and to put those unemployed by the Depression back to work.

A special guest at the dedication of the bridge in December 1939 was State Highway Commissioner G. Donald Kennedy. His speech emphasized the key role tourism played in the area's economy, and the necessity of developing good highways to access the area's natural assets: "You have one of the most beautiful counties in the state. You are near the second largest city in the nation -- Chicago. You need good roads to join this marvelous recreation land with the millions who swelter in Chicago's heat in the summer time and are looking for winter sports at this season of the year." The bridge exemplifies the impact of Depression-era programs, which not only provided work for the unemployed, but also created long-lasting improvements serving other purposes, such as tourism.